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Botswana Anti-AIDS efforts
--------------------------

Dear Christian:

There does not seem to be recent news on the progress with Botswana 
University, but the new virology laboratory and training center is 
slated for completion by the end of this year, according to the Har-
vard AIDS Institute. As you know, the Botswana-Harvard HIV Reference 
Laboratory (opened in February 2000) is a joint effort between the 
Ministry of Health, who are providing funds for the building and its 
renovation, and the Harvard AIDS Institute, who are providing equip-
ment. 

Rapid testing centers have been established in Gaborone and the rest 
of the country. A new method of testing is used that produces almost 
immediate results. To protect anonymity, no names are used. Everyone 
is given a number. Currently, 80 percent of the general population is 
HIV negative, according to Dr. Tom Kenyon, U.S. Centers for Disease 
Control (CDC).

The government is also actively working to stop the transmission of 
the virus from mother to child. According to Dr. Kenyon, approxi-
mately 60,000 deliveries occur each year. Of those, 40 percent of 
those women are HIV-Positive. The risk of transmission from mother to 
baby is around 40 percent, so that gives us 9,600 babies who are born 
each year with HIV infection. 

The main public hospital in Francistown has been providing an anti-
transmission drug, Retrovir or AZT, as part of a pilot program for 
the past two years. Botswana got the drug cheaply with help from the 
manufacturer, Glaxo Smith Kline, and UNICEF. Loeto Mazhani is the 
doctor in charge of the national mother-to-child program. He says 
that they are working on a target of December 2001 to make the drugs 
available to mothers through the whole country. So far, they have 
covered seven districts out of 24. 

Best wishes,

Cecilia Snyder
mailto:csnyder@ccmc.org

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